It’s as sure a sign as any that basketball season is right around the corner.
Gonzaga came in at 19 and Saint Mary’s at 22 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, released Thursday afternoon.
The Gaels return most of their team that went 29-5 last year and add grad transfer Cullen Neal from Ole Miss. Gonzaga is losing a ton, but is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and still has enough firepower left to contend in the West Coast Conference.
Duke is the preseason No. 1 team in the land, with Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky, and Arizona just behind. Michigan State and Arizona, along with Florida (ranked seventh) were the only other teams to receive No. 1 votes.
As for the mid-majors, the Bulldogs and Gaels were the only two to crack the poll, but several are on the brink and could make their debuts with strong starts to the season. Rhode Island received the 31st-most votes in the country, while Oakland, Harvard, and Nevada received consideration as well.
Complete poll (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Duke (20)
2. Michigan State (9)
5. Arizona (2)
7. Florida (1)
8. Wichita State
9. North Carolina
10. West Virginia
14. Notre Dame
22. Saint Mary’s
23. Seton Hall
Also receiving votes: Texas A&M, Virginia, Butler, Missouri, TCU, Rhode Island, Providence, Wisconsin, Maryland, Oakland, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oregon, SMU, Creighton, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Arkansas, Florida State, South Carolin, Nevada.